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Arab countries are no longer interested in issuing a strong condemnation of Israel
The debate over whether to hold an Arab summit, which was proposed this week by Yemen, is far from being resolved. The Yemeni proposal was discussed Tuesday at an Arab League meeting at the level of permanent representatives. Only nine Arab countries (Egypt, Sudan, Algeria, Lebanon, Palestine, Qatar, Djibouti, Kuwait and Mauritania) gave their initial approval to the proposal. A two-thirds quorum of the 22 Arab states is required to secure the possible convocation of an extraordinary Arab summit.
It was during the Arab foreign ministers' meeting at the Cairo headquarters of the Arab League on Saturday that Yemen decided to propose the convocation of an extraordinary Arab summit to allow for serious decision-making on collective Arab reaction to the Israeli aggression on Gaza and Lebanon.
However, for many Cairo-based Arab diplomats, including those whose countries had given an initial nod of approval to the proposal, there is not much point in holding an Arab summit now. There is wide enough recognition within Arab diplomatic quarters that there is nothing that the summit could present in view of the many disagreements over the real causes and possible consequences of the current situation. Many diplomats speaking to Al-Ahram Weekly on the fringe of and after the ministerial meeting argued that the level of disagreement demonstrated among foreign ministers was already too high.
According to informed sources, neither Syria nor Saudi Arabia seem to be particularly interested in the convocation of the Arab summit at the moment. Syria would not want an Arab summit that does not declare full support for Hizbullah and reaffirms the right of resistance -- an untenable objective at the moment.
For its part, Saudi Arabia does not want to be forced to speak against the role and performance of Hizbullah, which it has been doing for a week, at the level of its monarch.
As for Egypt, according to press statements published yesterday, President Hosni Mubarak said he believed it more pragmatic and effective to hold a limited summit for the countries directly involved in the Arab-Israeli conflict.